Feb. 22—CHAPEL HILL — Feeling heat from complaints, the commissioner of the state's 421-member public school athletic association responded in a memorandum to members last week.
In her writing, Commissioner Que Tucker of the N.C. High School Athletic Association touched on complaints about the organization's leadership, seating capacities at events, students in classrooms, and the basketball season that this week moved into the playoffs. A copy of her memo was obtained by the Bladen Journal through a request to the NCHSAA.
"For those who have questioned this organization's leadership," Tucker wrote, "remember that it is easier to judge when looking in from the outside and in the absence of all the facts and information from a statewide perspective. The mission of the NCHSAA is to 'provide governance and leadership for interscholastic athletic programs in North Carolina that support and enrich the educational experience of students.' When we step outside to support and enrich students' educational experience, then our leadership truly becomes ineffective."
She pointed out the administration seeks to adhere to the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
Tucker said the association has never established a pattern of putting pressure on other entities, such as Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen of the state Department of Health and Human Services. She said when asked, the NCHSAA has had a seat at the table for input toward amateur and youth sports guidelines.
Current guidelines being questioned are for 25 people at indoor events, such as volleyball and basketball, and 100 in football stadiums that this Friday open for a seven-game regular season. The size of the stadium does not matter. Most communities have grocers, for example, that allow more people into a smaller and enclosed area.
"Would the NCHSAA like more people in the stands?" she wrote. "Absolutely! But to be clear, we want that when it is safe and conducive to do so."
She wrote that the important thing was to get students in classrooms.
Tucker said basketball "coaches and players have done an excellent job of following protocols to get to this point." Rules for this season have dictated players, coaches and referees all wear face coverings throughout the contests, and while on the bench.
In photos and videos throughout the state, however, many players have tried only to cover their mouths. Referee enforcement has been inconsistent.
"I am keenly aware of the many postponed contests, quarantined teams, etc., since January 4," Tucker wrote. "But I have learned that we must celebrate even the small victories! Remember, this is not the time to relax and let down your guard — the playoffs start next week, and we want all teams to have a shot!"
Football will be the association's seventh sport to begin games. Cross country and volleyball competitions were played from November to January; swimming the diving from December to February; and basketball, boys soccer and lacrosse games started in January and finish next month.
The first spring season has competitions starting March 15 and state finals finishing as late as May 15. Those sports are boys and girls golf, boys tennis, softball and girls soccer. The second spring season begins games on April 26 and finishes state championships June 26 for baseball, girls tennis, track and wrestling.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or email@example.com. Twitter: @alanwooten19.